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UN expert calls for "immediate release" of two Russian poets

The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Russia has called for the "immediate release" of two Russian poets sentenced to several years in prison. The sentencing of Artyom Kamardin and Igor Shtovba is in "clear contradiction to international standards for the protection of...

The convicted poets Artjom Kamardin (left) and Igor
The convicted poets Artjom Kamardin (left) and Igor

UN expert calls for "immediate release" of two Russian poets

She called for the "immediate release" of the two men. Katzarova called on the Russian authorities to "immediately investigate the allegations of torture and ill-treatment" against Kamardin during his arrest.

Kamardin and Shtovba were detained in September 2022 after taking part in a public reading in Moscow in front of a statue of the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky - a meeting place for dissidents since the Soviet era. During the reading, Kamardin recited a poem entitled "Kill me, militiaman!", which criticized pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The two men were charged with "incitement to hatred" and "public calls for activities against state security". On December 28, they were sentenced by a Moscow court to prison terms of five and a half and seven years respectively.

"The nature of the charges, the severity of the sentences and the execution of the trial itself, based on the testimony of a 'secret witness', send a clear message to Russian society as a whole: dissenting voices, whether through poetry, art or other forms of expression, will have serious repercussions," explained Katzarova, who has been appointed by the UN Human Rights Council but does not speak on its behalf.

"Mock trials have become a tool of intimidation to incite fear and discourage others from speaking out against the war," Katzarova continued.

Russia has been suppressing critical voices for years, but the crackdown on dissent has taken on a new dimension with the start of the war of aggression against Ukraine. Since it began in February 2022, thousands of Russians have been sentenced for criticizing the war, in some cases to very harsh sentences.

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